PCA Confessional Standards

Westminister Confession
 

One generation shall praise our works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

– PSALM 145:4

[E]lders should perform their duty as members of presbyteries [where it] is often said: ‘The candidate will no doubt move in the direction of the truth; let him now be sent out to learn as well as to preach.’… Such action is not really ‘kind’ to the candidate himself. It is never kind to encourage a man to enter into a life of dishonesty. The fact often seems to be forgotten that the Presbyterian Church is a purely voluntary organization; no one is required to enter into its service. If a man cannot accept the belief of the Church, there are other ecclesiastical bodies in which he can find a place. The belief of the Presbyterian Church is plainly set forth in the Confession of Faith, and the Church will never afford any warmth of communion or engage with any real vigor in her work until her ministers are in whole-hearted agreement with that belief.

– J. GRESHAM MACHEN

The Importance and Relevance of the Westminster Confession of Faith

By John Murray:

Oftentimes it is pleaded that the Christian message must be adapted to the modern man. It is true that the message must be proclaimed to modern man, and to modern man in the context in which he lives and in a language he can understand. But it is much more true and important to plead that modern man must be adapted to the gospel. It is not true that the doctrine of the Confession is irrelevant to the modern man. It is indeed meaningless to him until he listens to it. But when a man today becomes earnest about the Christian faith, when he gives heed to Scripture as the Word of God, when he faces up to the challenge of unbelieving ways of thought and life and demands the answer which Christianity provides, he cannot rest with anything less than the consistency and vigour which the Confession exemplifies. Unbelief is potent and subtle, and the believer requires the truth of God in its fullest expression if he is to be furnished to faithful witness and confession.

Standing for the Standards

By David Strain:

Sometimes I wonder, as I listen to debates around the Church, if we have forgotten that the Westminster Standards express the convictions of the central ground, the main stream of the Presbyterian Church across the ages and around the world. Understanding that fact alone should change my tone and alter my posture.

The Westminster Confession

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

Westminster Confession of Faith

Source: Wikipedia

In 1643, the English Parliament called upon “learned,godly and judicious Divines” to meet at Westminster Abbey in order to provide advice on issues of worship,doctrine, government and discipline of the Church of England. Their meetings, over a period of five years, produced the confession of faith, as well as a Larger Catechism and a Shorter Catechism. For more than three hundred years, various churches around the world have adopted the confession and the catechisms as their standards of doctrine, subordinate to the Bible.

 

J. Gresham Machen: At any rate, an attack upon Calvin or Turrettin or the Westminster divines does not seem to the modern churchgoer to be a very dangerous thing. In point of fact, however, the attack upon doctrine is not nearly so innocent a matter as our simple churchgoer supposes; for the things objected to in the theology of the Church are also at the very heart of the New Testament. Ultimately the attack is not against the seventeenth century, but against the Bible and against Jesus Himself.

The Firm Foundation Partnership believes periodic review and renewal of our commitment of the Westminster Standards is healthy. The WS may not have the authority of Scripture, but they are a good and necessary summary of Bible doctrine. Acceptable tools for reviewing our confessional standards may never be time-bound critical methods, nor may they be influenced by these methods. Critical TheoryPervasive Interpretive Pluralism, and other culturally approved critical tools have no authority when considering Bible doctrine. Furthermore, the claim that seventeenth century church leaders were not equipped to produce a binding doctrinal document is nothing more than “Chronological Snobbery” (Note below). The Westminster Standards are the product of a thorough study of Scripture and careful collaboration by one hundred twenty-one faithful Reformed pastors over five years. The only authority to which our confessional standards answer is the inspired God’s Word, our “rule of faith and life.” (WCF, 1.2) Therefore, the Firm Foundation Partnership endorses strict adherence to the Westminster Standards, qualified only by Scripture.

Note: C.S. Lewis defined Chronological Snobbery as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.” He continues that chronological snobbery “passes to the realization that our own age is also ‘a period,’ and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.”

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

– ISAIAH 40:8

The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other than the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture.

– WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1.10 

Recommended Reading

The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as Adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America with Proof Texts

“This is the official document of the PCA. Contains the Westminster Confession, Larger and Shorter Catechisms and Scripture proofs on each page.” – Amazon

westminster confession of faith COMMENTARY

The Westminster Confession: A Commentary

By A. A. Hodge

“The younger Hodge was gifted with the ability to communicate the best theology in a satisfying and pleasant style. His Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith demonstrates these qualities magnificently. Professor Francis Patton of Princeton Seminary called this volume, ‘a very useful book, full of clear thinking and compact statements. It reveals Hodge’s strong convictions, his power of analysis and his ability to make sharp and discriminating definitions.'” – Amazon

Be it noticed that the candidates do not subscribe to the Reformed system of doctrine merely as one allowable system among many allowable systems. They do not even merely subscribe to it as the best system. But they subscribe to it as the system that is true. Being true, it is true for Methodists and Lutherans just as much as Presbyterians, and we cannot treat as of no moment the differences which separate us from Methodists and Lutherans without being unfaithful to the Word of God. Does that mean that we cannot have Christian fellowship with our Methodist or our Lutheran brethren? It means nothing of the kind. On the contrary, we can have very precious fellowship with them.


– J. GRESHAM MACHEN